A Dirty Warrior’s Ride
Doom techies A Place to Bury Strangers have hit the green “Go” button on Worship, a riveting street-level surveillance of a world in moral and physical flames, tweaking with inhuman noises and coursing at an amphetamine pace. It’s a dystopian place of cracked concrete, flickering street lamps, and a loss of—as well as a clawing, scratching search for—what makes us human. Guitar/vocalist Oliver Ackermann’s detached, libidinous hankerings echo in a context of sci-fi nihilism, a searchlight-addled danger zone where the only thrill left is that hallow-eyed blonde in the fishnets selling her body. Desperate times, desperate pleasures. Worship is a sex-infused tractor beam trawling you into its cold, hard maw. And at just halfway into 2012, it’s got to be one of the year’s best listens.
The album’s namesake cut, “Worship,” is pretty great. The faceless, barcoded drumming recalls New Wave’s steeliest rat-a-tat, while bass guitarist Dion Lunadon bumps rays of psychedelic energon across the song’s iron landscape. Then there’s Ackerman’s hushed, felony-record delivery. “A simple touch can put me in the mood,” he purrs. Yeah, something tells me you were already in the mood. It’s a vocal in the rich pervert tradition of The Normal’s “Warm Leatherette,” culminating in some predatory, echo-drenched cackles toward the end.
A Place to Bury Strangers recall seminal CBGB alums Suicide in many ways, but especially in “You Are the One,” a stark, Road Warrior death wish number. Sounding not unlike singer Alan Vega’s mechanized grandson, Ackermann deadpans his way through a halting, brittle verse. “I feel the wind / Breathe the air / I’m driving fast / But still don’t care,” he stumbles, in what amounts to an ode to the muscle car that killed him. All the while our frontman is doing double duty with icy guitar lines that gleam and crack like the glass on a lab monster’s cryogenic cubicle. It’s as tense as it is noisy. The song later mimics its antihero’s suicidal car wreck with a giant crash of its own, slamming into what sounds like an amorphous sea of screaming dolphins on Star Wars landspeeders. Don’t worry, though—as a club-thumping A.I. clone of Martha Stewart once said: “It’s a good thing.”
As is much of Worship. Its DNA re-combination of 1984 paranoia and street-tough randiness give it a cynical but seductive sound. It’s a coarse album, a dirty warrior’s ride through a 22nd-century red-light district—one of lust, angst and firepower. Between its vehicular locomotion and Ackermann’s estranged longings as an N.W.O. outlaw, the result is a road-weary blast of sensual sci-fi drama. The gas is low and the predator drones are closing in, but Ackerman’s Mad Max brood have managed just the right drop to your pup tent. Even if you don’t survive, the very least you could do is Worship.